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Gobal Exchange

AUGUST 17, 2007
1:13 PM

CONTACT: Gobal Exchange 
Nell Greenberg, 510-847-9777;
Angela Walker, 650-766-2748

Human Rights, Trade and Labor Groups Oppose
Closed-Door Summit on North America's Future
Groups Call for an Open, Democratic Debate on New NAFTA-Plus Agenda



On August 20 and 21, the presidents of the United States and Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada will meet to discuss the future of North America. Their summit agenda will be dominated by a little-known NAFTA-plus strategy dubbed the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP). Labor and citizens' organizations in the US, Mexico, and Canada have come together to stress, "this summit is a threat to democratic government, human rights, and environmental protection.
U.S. President George Bush, Mexican President Felipe Calderón, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are convening at the exclusive Canadian resort, Chateau Montebello—behind a 25-kilometer security perimeter—for the third tri-national SPP summit.  The SPP is a self-described "White House-led initiative" consisting of a secretive series of agreements between the three countries on issues ranging from border security to patent protections.
"The SPP harkens back to the politics of the Old Boy's Club," said Ted Lewis, Global Exchange's Human Rights Director, "where heads of state sit around the table with corporate executives to hash out a political wish list without public participation or scrutiny."
The heads of state will share their talks with an elite group of corporate CEOs, known as the North American Competitiveness Council, (NACC).  "The SPP ensures that corporate concerns are heard, while other concerns remain silenced," said Jon Hunt of the Campaign for Labor Rights. "In the SPP the business leaders have direct access to the Three Amigos while civil society is left out, on the other side of the fence."
The SPP seeks to impose a Washington-based agenda on Mexico by focusing on patent laws, anti-piracy campaigns, and lowering transaction costs for U.S. businesses without addressing the causes behind worsening rural and urban poverty in Mexico.
"The SPP is about boosting the profitability of big business," said Manuel Perez Rocha of the Alliance for Responsible Trade, "the SPP is not about creating opportunities for small farmers, street vendors, and factory workers in Mexico or helping them restore their local economies and livelihoods, but rather it is about giving another hand to the corporations who cut jobs to raise profits increasing the economic pressures that push families to uproot and look for work in other Mexican states and in the U.S."
In the SPP, the governments misconceive migration as a security problem, rather than understanding the economic roots of migration and seeking to re-evaluate and recast the failed structural adjustment policies that led to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has caused sharp increases in poverty in Mexico and consequently the near doubling of undocumented Mexican immigration to the U.S. since NAFTA's implementation in 1994.
"Expanding the scope of NAFTA to incorporate security and energy priorities links trade and militarization," said Jessica Walker Beaumont of the American Friends Service Committee.  "Trade agreements that only come to Congress for an up or down vote already fly in the face of democratic processes, but tacking a secret, quasi-military agenda onto an FTA is unacceptable."
"The SPP puts pressure on Mexico to militarize its southern border, while granting U.S. border patrol greater operations powers in the U.S.-Mexico border," said Héctor Sánchez, of Global Exchange. "Any sensible immigration debate should start in an open public forum by discussing how to generate greater economic opportunities in Mexico and also how to protect workers rights on both sides of the border."
The SPP seeks to expand market access for U.S. and Canadian corporations by creating so-called Super Corridors to link Canada to the U.S.-Mexico border.
"These long-distance transport routes perpetuate the unsustainable consumption of non-renewable oil and gas resources and increase greenhouse gas emissions," said Nancy Price of the Alliance for Democracy. "Any sane tri-national summit would seek perspectives on how to integrate local and regional economies, not how to simply speed up Canada's race to the sweatshop belt of the U.S.-Mexico border."
SPP documents have hinted at the poor performance of Mexico's national oil company, a long sought-after target for U.S. investment and potentially privatization. The SPP encourages Mexico to create a separate gas production company and open it to private investment, a profoundly unpopular view in Mexico.
After thirteen years of failed NAFTA promises, the heads of state should seek input from a broad range of voices and open a critical dialogue on how to recast North American economic integration.  Instead they choose to gather with those who have profited from the misery created by NAFTA and strategize on how to continue and expand this failed model.
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Global Exchange is a non-profit research, education, and action center dedicated to promoting people-to-people ties around the world. 'Since our founding in 1988, we have been striving to increase global awareness among the US public while building international partnerships around the world.'l


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